Ground-breaking mental health project gets green light

Paul Cambre, of Growing Well

A ground-breaking new mental health project and kitchen garden at Tebay Services has been given the green light by Eden planners.

Proposals were submitted by owners Westmorland Family for a change of use of an unused part of the Tebay Services Caravan Park to horticultural and educational use.

It has entered into a partnership with charity Growing Well, which will run the site.

The Kendal-based organic farm and mental health charity, which has helped hundreds of people in South Cumbria recover from mental health problems since it opened in 2004, will open its second Growing Well site in January, bringing access to its unique service northwards to rural Eden, Penrith and as far as Carlisle.

Growing Well at Tebay Services aims to help 100 people a year in Eden and North Cumbria recover from mental health difficulties by volunteering there one day a week for up to a year.

Under the supervision of experienced therapeutic growers and mental health support staff, volunteers, who can be referred by GPs and other health services, or apply to join the project themselves, can rebuild confidence, learn new skills, benefit from peer support and be helped to achieve their goals, such as returning to employment or education.

The Westmorland Family is funding the £150,000 capital cost of creating the kitchen garden, which will supply £40,000 a year of fresh salad and other vegetables directly to the services’ farmshops and kitchens just a few hundred meters away.

The National Lottery Community Fund has also granted Growing Well £180,000 of funding towards running costs over the first two years.

The project has created four new jobs. Work will start later this month at the secluded site at Tebay Services Northbound, erecting polytunnels, creating raised beds and installing a modular building providing a meeting, office, welfare and social space for staff and volunteers.

Paul Cambre, Growing Well head of horticulture, is leading the site build. He said: “What a thrill to see the next stage for Growing Well in our partnership with Tebay Services and The National Lottery Community Fund.


“From January, we can welcome people to join us in the kitchen garden on their recovery into good mental health, from rural Eden, Penrith and Carlisle. We can’t wait to get started!”

Growing Well will also be recruiting support volunteers, who support the staff working with its beneficiaries, volunteer minibus drivers, and volunteer community ambassadors and fundraisers. The charity would also welcome local businesses who wish to support mental health in their community.

To find out more about referring to Growing Well at Tebay Services, or getting involved in any way, email [email protected] or go to

At the launch of the project earlier this year Growing Well chief executive Mary Smith said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Westmorland Family to bring our unique model to a second site in Cumbria, which will open up our service not only to the people of rural Eden and Penrith, but up the M6 ​​as far as Carlisle.

“There are big gaps in mental health services, an ever-growing need post-COVID, and rural isolation is a particular problem.

Westmorland Family chair Sarah Dunning said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Growing Well on a project that will help to address one of the great needs in our community, which is mental health.

“We are a business that has locally sourced food at its heart, so we are excited about being able to source freshly harvested, pesticide-free salads and vegetables on our own doorstep.”


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